New Campus Chief of Police Daniel Hect Surrounded in Controversy

Photo Courtesy of Smith College

Photo Courtesy of Smith College

Eliza Grace Cattau ’22

News Journalist

In January 2019, Daniel Hect was hired as the new campus police chief for the joint campus police departments of Mount Holyoke and Smith.

After Hect was hired, students at Mount Holyoke found his Twitter page and pointed out several tweets he had liked. Each tweet was almost exclusively in response to President Trump’s tweets and included anti-immigrant, pro-gun rights and racist sentiments. In one tweet Hect liked, Twitter user pjwolf01 wrote, “Stay the course Pres. Trump,” and in another, Twitter user Lonewold2347 wrote, “BUILD THAT WALL!!” He also liked a tweet from the National Rifle Association that said, “The National Rifle Association wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas!” Only screenshots are available of these actions because Hect’s Twitter page has now been deleted.

According to his LinkedIn page, Daniel Hect previously worked as the chief of police at Xavier University for eight months and as the chief of police at Denison University for approximately three years. He began his career as a master sergeant in the United States Air Force Security Forces. He then transitioned to working as a retired officer, among other duties, at the University of Southern California.

After spring break, the Mount Holyoke student body rose up on social media against this new hire and the sentiments that he brings to the campus by urging students to attend a community forum on March 21 with Hect himself. After this backlash from students, Hect met with representatives from Mount Holyoke’s Student Government Association and held a Q&A session with them. After the meeting and community forum, Hect sent an email to the student body in response. He wrote that he is “committed to dedicating [him]self and the entire campus police force to being a positive influence on campus safety.” He then identified a 75-minute “restorative justice circle” he would be participating in and two 90-minute “listening sessions,” which will take place April 17 and April 30, to hear students’ concerns. However, many Smith and Mount Holyoke students are still deeply concerned, frustrated and angry.

These concerns were echoed April 4 and 5 at Smith, when students put up flyers and chalk messages in order to raise awareness and educate the Smith community about these concerns. Flyers said, “THIS IS SMITH’S NEW CHIEF OF POLICE, IS OUR COMMUNITY SAFE?” and chalk messages relayed similar sentiments outside of the Campus Center and PVTA bus stop. Hect’s hiring was brought up again in Smith’s SGA senate meeting on Thursday evening.

Smith students are currently waiting to hear a response from the administration. On April 10, students will hear from Hect during the Inclusion and Diversity Conference at his talk called “Policing a Diverse Community.”